Friday, May 19, 2017

Elizabeth – Home of the Holden



Australia likes big things.  We have the big banana, the big pineapple, but the ‘Big Holden’?  In 1993 the Elizabeth Rotary Club President Pat Quigley floated the idea of a tourist drawcard to promote Elizabeth.   At that time Elizabeth had the highest rate of export in Australia.  Industry with national headquarters in the area included, General Motors Holden, Fassons, Levi Strauss, Texas Instruments, Aunger, Bonaire and Bridgestone.  General Motors Holden’s was deemed uniquely Elizabethan and South Australian and offered the best qualities as a tourism drawcard.  Holden’s had a wide potential sponsors, paint manufacturers, glass merchants, battery makes etc.
A sub committee was formed to explore the feasibility of tourist attraction that would be a positive image for the City.  The subcommittee included past Rotarian president Les Brazier, Ken Hilliard,  George Morris, Bob Batty, past president of the Probus Club, Gordon Grieg, Bill Hall and Pat Quigley.

In 1994, past Rotarian and draughtsman, John Wakefield provided professional drawings of this option; alongside Main North Road a Big Holden on a swivel platform atop a museum with merchandising outlets, café and parking.  The Museum would include a FX Holden and current model, surrounded by cut outs of engines, plans etc.  The ‘Big Holden’ was to be a replica of the first Holden, a 1948/215, eight times its actual size.

Four concepts were eventually proposed; a big Holden, three actual sized Holden’s, an original FX on rotating platform enclosed by glass surround and lit up at night and a GMH Lion atop a pole with vertical signage “The Holden story”. 
The Rotary Club of Elizabeth contacted the Elizabeth Council, Tourism SA, the Department of Road Transport and General Motors Holden and instigated discussions over the proposal. The concept was raised in an Elizabeth Council meeting and met with little support.  Councillors avoided responsibility recommending that permission be sought from GMH and the government.  GMH were interested but wouldn’t commit without Council approval.  

Some of the proposed sites include the southern aspect of Argana Park on Main North Road, the corner of Shandon and Main North Road, Ridley Reserve triangle, Carrisbrooke Park and Parafield Airport. The Argana Park sight being the preferred location.
The concept was dropped in December 1995, two and half years after its initial proposal. The Elizabeth City Council endorsed the proposal in principal but was unable to find a suitable site from their Vacant Land Register. Without the Council’s firm commitment the project stalled. The Rotary Club still believed it was a feasible and viable project.

This cartoon appeared in the News Review in 1993, with an article about the ‘Giant car proposal for north’.

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